Paycheck Chronicles

Beware Tricare "Secret Shopper" Scam

A new type of scam is targeting people who are familiar with the Tricare name, and has the potential to cost victims $3,000 in cash, plus a lot of stress and aggravation.  Knowing the details might keep you from becoming a victim of this truly obnoxious crime.

In a news release from the Defense Health Agency, Office of Program Integrity (DHA-PI), dated 27 August 2015, officials explain how the scam works.  The package includes a letter from a non-existent "Tricare Survey Inc.," asking the person to be a "Trainee Independent Private Evaluator" for Tricare, plus a counterfeit check from TRICARE WPS for $3,775.00, and instructions for how to have the check "authorized" through a phone call to an "agent."  The directions instruct recipients to deposit the check at their personal bank, then purchase six $500.00 "Vanilla Reload" cards.  After the purchase, the victim is then to provide the card information to the agent, complete a survey, and wait for the next assignment.

The language used the press release indicates that this scam is being perpetrated against Tricare beneficiaries, but it does not explain how those beneficiaries might be targeted.

This scam follows a common scenario:  victims are provided with a payment via a fake check, and then asked to refund a portion of the money or forward it on to a third-party.  This basic structure is used for thousands of scams every year, targeting a wide variety of victims of all ages, sexes, and demographic groups all over the world.

Tricare does not employ secret shoppers, and the entire scenario is part of an extensive network of fraud.  Don't let yourself be victimized by these criminals.

Should you receive a letter or package that meets the description of this scam, DHA-PI advises you not to contact the company or attempt to cash the enclosed check.   Please contact the DHA-PI Fraudline, found at the DHA-PI website through the Program Integrity page by clicking on the “Report Health Care Fraud” button.

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